There’s a persistent, pernicious sentiment from certain Christian conservatives that they’re being persecuted or oppressed for their religious beliefs.
It’s gotten louder over the years and it ranges from things that sound silly — “There’s a War on Christmas because I’m asked to say ‘Happy Holidays’ in December — to things that sound serious: “I’m being compelled by the government to do something that violates the tenets of Christianity.”
This latter claim has started cropping up a lot; it’s part of conservative opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Christian employers shouldn’t be mandated to provide birth control coverage) and it’s part of conservative opposition to same-sex marriage (Christian-owned businesses shouldn’t be compelled to participate).
These objections are often couched in the most hysterical sort of rhetoric, namely that atheists and liberals are persecuting Christians and that the very fabric of our republic is being pulled asunder if the freedom of religion can be so obviously undermined in this way.
But here’s the thing:
Freedom of religion isn’t being threatened and Christians aren’t being persecuted. What’s being threatened, actually, is a particular form of intolerance that dresses itself in religious rhetoric.
There are millions and millions of Christians in America who aren’t intolerant of gays and lesbians and who don’t oppose the right of women — like men — to make decisions pertaining to reproductive health for themselves. In this sense, Christianity isn’t being persecuted. What’s being threatened, instead, is a particular form of belief that centers around not simply the Christian Bible, but around intolerance of others to make life choices for themselves if those life choices don’t line up with a particular interpretation of the Bible.
Are we so intolerant of the intolerant in America? Not usually. And, in fact, we’re not being all that intolerant now. Christian conservatives can still oppose same-sex marriage or birth control or whatever else in their private lives. The government isn’t compelling them to attend these marriages or to use birth control. The government isn’t challenging their beliefs or compelling them to change their minds.
American Christians — and everyone else too — can believe anything they want to believe, but they cannot use their beliefs as a cudgel; belief — even sincerely held belief — isn’t an excuse to discriminate against others or to curtail their rights.
There is, incidentally, no shortage of articles online to which one might turn for a reminder about what actual persecution of Christians looks like; Christians do face persecution in many parts of the world … but America isn’t really one.
Today’s Comment of the Day comes from our new friend Shelley Broadway, who isn’t used to people disagreeing with her.
She went on a little rant over on her Facebook page about how I didn’t link to her post and how I twisted her words by not quoting her entire blog post about how she convinced her 10 year old child that Obamcare was bad based on a poorly-constructed analogy designed to convince her child that Obamacare was bad.
When I pointed out to her that, in fact, the entire title of my blog post was a link to her post and that there was another link to her post within my post, her reply was:
Clearly, you can read. Go read the original blog post and you’ll have your answers. I haven’t time to waste on you - repeating - repeatedly - what I’ve already said. I refuse to waste any more of my time on you, when you’ve CLEARLY got your fingers in your ears going “Not listening! I can’t hear you!”
I have the masses to entertain - not you - and the last three days spent riding the merry-go-round with self-entitled whiney people who think they should be handed everything on a silver platter has me quite dizzy. As I said before - I didn’t order waffles.
The “I refuse to waste any more of my time on you” was, incidentally, her first reply to my first comment on the subject. So, in other words, “I don’t appreciate being told that I’m wrong so I simply ignore anyone with information that proves me wrong.”
"A little-known congressman in office only eight months is one of the most prominent developers of a plan that could shut government."
"House to vote again on Obamacare"
"Shutdown plans | Take the test"
So … This is why I’m pleased that I don’t teach American politics. You don’t run into this kind of ridiculous nonsense with such amazing frequency when you teach the history of political thought.
I mean, I guess I could teach a class on all the yahoos with terrible ideas that no one pays any attention to or that wrecked havoc on various countries throughout history. But, if they were smart, no one would take that class because it’s a bowl full of head-scratching misery.
Today’s Comment of the Day comes from my friend Marcus Sanborn, who echoes Matthew Yglesias’ sentiments on why Sen. Ted Cruz should have chosen his reading material more judiciously:
I’m reminded of Nancy Pelosi’s much-mocked remark that “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
What she was expressing was the idea that while the health reform bill may not have been popular, the health reform law would prove popular in practice once it was in effect. People would like their subsidies and their regulatory protections, and wouldn’t want to see them repealed. She was making, specificaly, a kind of Green Eggs and Ham argument. The narrator keeps insisting that he hates green eggs and ham, but he’s never had green eggs and ham. When he finally tries them—he likes them!
The Democrats’ bet on the Affordable Care Act is that it’s like green eggs and ham—they’re convinced the public will like it when they try it.
Conservatives like Cruz claim that this is wrong. That Americans will taste the green eggs and ham and they’re going to hate it. But their actions speak otherwise. They’re desperate to repeal the law before it’s implemented. And in terms of the 2012 elections, that was fair enough. But they lost in 2012. Now instead of acting like they’re confident that the voter backlash to the green eggs and ham will power them to victories in 2014 and 2016, they’re engaging in flailing desperate tactics to make sure nobody tries the green eggs and ham. Because deep down they fear that Dr. Seuss was right.
My friend Drew Taub further notes, “Also, the basis for the resistance to the green eggs and ham was because he didn’t like the guy who was pitching them.”
When the American people hear about what Sen. Ted Cruz has been doing, what is their reaction?
A. This guy really loves my freedom and/or my opinion that the government shouldn’t pay for anything I don’t like; I sure hope he runs for president in 2016;
B. This guy really hates the idea that everyone will have health insurance, though I’m guessing he really likes the idea that he has health insurance;
C. This is exactly why I don’t pay attention to politics.
I’m anxious to see the polling on this one.
As always, CNN asks the hard-hitting questions that we’re all thinking but are too embarrassed to ask.
What is Cruz’s deal?
Republican support of President Obama’s healthcare legislation rose by eight percentage points when identified as the Affordable Care Act instead of “Obamacare,” a new Fox News poll has found.
Raise your hand if you don’t know what you don’t like, but you know you don’t like anything with the word “Obama” in it.
Obamacare’s 10% tax on tanning bed services is racist against white people because darker-skinned people don’t need to tan. At least, that’s what Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) advised Speaker John Boehner to claim in order to turn people against the Affordable Care Act.
It’s good to see the tanning tax making its way back into the public consciousness, just as it’s good to see that the GOP is still fighting the good fight against the Affordable Care Act. I mean, there’s literally nothing else to do these days, nor has there been for the past few years.
Of course, if the fantastically-named Rep. Yoho had truly been on his game, he could have grabbed the national spotlight way back in 2010 when Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi made this her own personal political issue:
"I don’t go tanning anymore because Obama put a 10 percent tax on tanning. [Sen. John] McCain would never put a 10 percent tax on tanning. Because he’s pale and would probably want to be tan," she said.
Snooki was referring to a provision in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act that mandates tanning salons impose a 10 percent tax on UV-ray sessions.
Clearly, Obama can’t relate to Snooki’s problems, she added, commenting on Obama’s skin color.
"Obama doesn’t have that problem. Obviously," she said.
So thanks, Rep. Yoho, for finally hearing the pleas of engaged citizens like Snooki, and for having the courage of your convictions to stick up for white people and to say “No!” to the blatant racism of a tanning tax.
It’s good to see an elected official finally dealing with the real racism that exists in this country, namely the way a 10% tax on tanning affects white people.
Here, finally, is the leadership we expect from Congress.
I don’t know anything about Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican representing Texas’ 36th District, but I do know comedy when I see it.
In other news, at what point will Republicans exhaust themselves in their endless attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Is it never? If it’s never, just tell me so I can stop paying attention.